It's the second-leading cause of death for youth aged 15-24 years in B.C. and Canada. By the end of high school, one in five teens will seriously consider it, and one in 10 will attempt it. More B.C. youth die from it than anything else except car crashes. "It" is suicide, and it can be prevented.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicide.
Most suicidal youth show signs of their distress, although some do not. Your child may be at risk of suicide if he or she is showing changes such as these:
- Talking about suicide or a plan for suicide.
- Saying things like, "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead," "I shouldn't have been born," "I won't be a problem for you much longer," "Nothing matters," or "It's no use."
- Making statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness.
- Complaining of feeling "rotten inside" or being a bad person, refusing help or feeling beyond help. Not tolerating praise or rewards.
- Giving away favourite possessions or making a will.
- Being preoccupied with death.
- Showing a loss of interest in pleasurable activities or things they once cared about. Always feeling bored.
- Feeling trapped, increasingly anxious, agitated or angry.
- Showing marked personality changes and serious mood changes.
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
- Expressing plans to seek revenge.
- Sleeping all of the time or unable to sleep.
- Having trouble concentrating or difficulties with school work.
- Complaining frequently about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomach aches, headaches or fatigue.
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
- Showing impulsive behaviours, such as violent actions, rebellious behaviour or running away.
- Increasing or excessive substance use.
- Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression (may mean the youth has already made the decision to escape their problems through suicide).
The Ministry of Children and Family Development would like to remind young people and their families that if they are feeling alone, sad, or having thoughts of suicide, there is help available. Here are a few numbers youth and families can contact themselves or on behalf of someone else to get immediate help:
- 1 800-SUICIDE (1 800 784-2433).
- Youth in BC: 1 866 661-3311 (Toll-Free). Youth in BC is an online crisis service where you can chat 1-on-1 with a trained volunteer 24 hours a day.
- Aboriginal People Crisis Line: 1 800 588-8717.
- Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1 877 209-1266.
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: A free 24 hour hotline in Canada or the U.S. 1 800 273-8255.
- Kids Help Phone: 1 800 668-6868. The Kids Help Line is a national organization offering bilingual, 24-hour toll-free confidential phone counselling, referral and internet services for children and youth or their parents in English and French.
The B.C. government has several initiatives around the province that aim to reduce the risk of youth suicide, for example, the FRIENDS for Life program at: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/friends.htm
This is a school-based prevention program designed to increase resiliency and reduce anxiety for B.C. students.
The ministry has compiled best practice information for practitioners related to youth suicide prevention and intervention as well as for steps following suicide. This information is posted on the ministry website: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/suicide_prevention/for_professionals.htm
Ministry of Children and Family Development